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Extraordinary Teen Council (ETC)

At the Salida City Council work session on June 6, Mayor Dan Shore welcomed special guests from the Extraordinary Teen Council (ETC), a program of Chaffee County Family & Youth Initiatives (FYI). College-bound, youth representative Jessie Rollins reported on the success of their “mocktails” at the recent SunFest and spoke of new plans for their focus groups and ways to increase their social media presence.

ETC’s first teen liaison to Salida City Council Jessie Rollins makes a point as she wraps up her two year term. Dibby Olson/FYI (photo)

Rollins thanked the council for all their support over the last two years. “It’s been a pleasure working with you and we really appreciate everything you have brought to us,” said Shore.

Rollins then introduced her successors: Ben Smith and Jasper Coen, both Juniors at Salida High School. Smith said he felt it was a very impactful role and that he looked forward to enacting change in the community. He reiterated that he wanted to bring “actual physical change as a result of all the surveys they have conducted”.

Coen agreed with Smith that they need to spur change but added he “wanted to go further and represent those in the community who might have underrepresented community voices; the LGBTQ+ and mental health-need teens and…just help people”.

After a round of applause from those gathered, FYI Youth Program Coordinator, Dibby Olson added her thoughts about the council’s support. “You see them, you hear them, you’re listening and you’re responding and that means everything”.

She also credited Kate Adams, one of the first paid youth advisors, together with another youth advisor in BV. The positions were created by FYI and funded by the Communities That Care Coalition (CTC) to elevate youth voice, assist and motivate youth to implement chosen initiatives, plan youth activities and assist the CTC coalition, City Councils and School Boards in incorporating youth voices in decision making that affects them.  The youth advisors work 10-20 hours a week “…supporting all things youth-driven in Chaffee county. ”

After trading some inside jokes with the ETC teens, Council Member Justin Critelli shared thoughts expressed on multiple occasions by the entire Council and Mayor. “It’s huge piece of the puzzle that we would be missing, woefully, without you [ETC representatives] happy to have you both.”

Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA) Update

CHA Director of Housing Becky Gray provided council members with a brief overview of a new program in progress – the Continuum of Care (CoC).  As defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), it’s a way for local, state and federal human services providers and other stakeholders to come together, with clients at the center.

Using “case conferencing” methods, the CoC program finds the best way to meet the unique total housing and related needs of community members in a coordinated manner, similar to what major healthcare providers holistically can do for their patients.

Gray explained that this program is in its initial stages, meeting twice monthly. She said that they will follow established HUD models and processes to leverage the resources already available here in Chaffee County, avoiding overlap or delays in providing needed services.

Rounding out her twin presentations, Gray said she had been making the rounds of the municipalities, the County, the Economic Development Corporation, and soon, the Chaffee County Community Foundation, seeking feedback regarding sustainable funding models for the CHA.  Different tax initiatives are being evaluated; feedback as to the most promising option or combination of options is mixed.  A survey will be conducted in June, along with some targeted follow up calls, at which time the CHA will report back to the local governments as to what might be on the November 2022 ballot.

Council Evaluates Impact of FAMLI ACT

Assistant Finance Director Kristen Hussey explained the Colorado Family Medical Leave Insurance Program (FAMLI) that voters approved as Proposition 118.  It offers pros and a few cons when compared to the existing Short Term Disability (STD) insurance benefit currently offered to fulltime city employees.  FAMLI covers all employees and benefits are not limited to handle just the needs of the named employee, rather it extends to those needs driven by the employee’s family circle.

As new legislation, many detail questions still remain.  Largest among them is the initial delay period between when premiums are paid and when benefits become available. Before making a decision, staff was directed to learn the impact of the city opting out initially, then opting back in come January, 2023. If the city does not act soon, it will automatically be opted in.  To opt out, a resolution is required by July 1.  Further discussion may take place at the Council meeting on June 7 or a resolution to opt out could be brought to the June 14 regular meeting..

“Open Doors” RV Rental Program

Community Planning Director Bill Almquist concluded the meeting by providing an update on the “Open Doors” program and its RV Rental initiative.  To date, seven, late-model used RV’s have been reserved, to be placed at the Salida RV Resort in mid to late June for a 5-month initial program.  With the city purchasing the RVs and the Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA) managing the program, they will be offered to local employer’s workforces at a rent of $750-$950/month.

Interested parties have already been contacting the city and the CHA expects to release applications later this week.  Full details of the program, the master lease, subtenant lease and other matters are slated for discussion at the regular Council meeting tonight, June 7 as agenda item 21 (Resolution 2022-27).

Featured image: Incoming ETC teen liaisons to Salida City Council Jasper Coen (left) and Ben Smith (right) introduce themselves to council members. Dibby Olson/FYI photo